Radio Listening on a Radio Set
May 25, 2023
Until rather recently, the word “radio” could be used interchangeably to denote either the device — the ‘radio set’ — or the sounds emanating from that set. There was only one way to listen to radio and that was on a radio.
But of course with the advent of streaming, and in particular the widespread adoption of smartphones, radio could be unhitched from the radio set. One could now listen to radio without the radio.
So it is worth our while to get a sense for just how devices come into play these days for radio listening.
Our most recent update from Share of Ear® shows that 86% of radio listening time among those age 13+ is now spent on a radio, so 14% is on other devices. The graph below shows that the phone is by far the biggest source of radio listening that doesn’t occur on a traditional radio – more than half of radio streaming happens on a phone.
The graph also shows the same information among 18-49-year-olds. As you can see, this group now does 20% of its radio listening through the internet, and more than two-thirds of that listening time is on the phone. Computers, smart speakers, and internet-connected TVs account for the remaining shares of listening.
Late last year we reported that for total audio listening, the phone surpassed the radio set for the first time. While it is always risky to predict the future, it seems reasonably safe to bet that the phone will be the primary battle zone for consumers’ time spent listening going forward. As of today, only a relatively small portion of time spent listening to audio on the smartphone goes to ‘radio’. As radio charts a future that is less dependent on the single-function ‘radio set’, success on the phone, as well as other internet-enabled devices, is imperative.